• Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.

Friday Buffet

Forget Greece. The real news out of Europe this week was the Environment Commissioner targeting a 50% food waste reduction in the EU by 2020. Beautiful.

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Not sure about the viability of replicating this school without Titanic/Avatar money, but it’s pretty neat–a zero waste elementary school in Malibu. Sure, they’re composting. But what I really want to see is the campus falconer in action.

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Food waste = money waste. Heck, yeah!

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Quote of the week:

“It’s a really awesome substrate to be digesting, because it’s extremely energy-rich.”

– US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesperson Laura Moreno on using anaerobic digestion on food waste at East Bay Municipal Utility District’s wastewater plant.

November 11, 2011 | Posted in Composting, International, Restaurant, School | Comments closed

Sainsbury’s Savvy Moves

Sainsbury’s keeps upping the stakes on how a supermarket can do the right thing regarding food waste.

The British retailer commissioned research on how purchased food isn’t eaten and found that the average household tosses 10% of what they buy. And that comes at a cost–of about £50 per month.

Sainsbury’s also worked w/ quasi-governmental group WRAP to profile various shopper types. Their findings are just as important and more entertaining. For example, there are the Hungry Hoarders who shop on an empty stomach and buy too much. And the Ditzy Diarists who don’t consult their “diary” (schedule book) before shopping and, as a result of their plans, can’t use the fresh foods they bring home.

And these developments occur on the heels of the chain being the largest retail user of anaerobic digestion. And that came after Sainsbury’s zero waste to landfill pledge. Not bad, J. Sainsbury!

[Full disclosure: When I lived in London in 1997-1998, I shopped at Sainsbury's and swore by the Biere des Flandres and day-old bread (not necessarily together).]

November 9, 2011 | Posted in International, Supermarket | Comments closed

Monday Leftovers

Finally! Someone quantified just how much greener it is to reduce food waste than to compost it. The Stockholm Environmental Institute found that avoiding waste has 30 times the benefit of composting, when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

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If you want to see some beautiful pictures of volunteers gleaning broccoli and cabbage, look no further.

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I’m pretty sure David Giles is my favorite dumpster-diving Australian-born PhD candidate in the U.S. He’s doing neat work examining how cultural assumptions about what is appetizing cause so much food waste and I can’t wait to see what his eventual book looks like.

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Finally…not to split hairs, but I don’t remember changing my last name. (And mid-article, too!)

November 7, 2011 | Posted in Environment, Food Recovery, Stats | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

If your pumpkin wasn’t smashed Regardless of whether your pumpkin was smashed or is whole, you can compost it. If you live in San Francisco, you can convert it to energy. Me? I’ll be roasting and eating mine…

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British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is now sending all of its food waste to anaerobic digesters (to create energy). Bravo!

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And speaking of anaerobic digestion, or biodigesters, there’s one in “the kitchen of the future,” allowing it to run on leftovers.

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Notre Dame’s Waste-Free Wednesdays are back this year, after a successful run last November raising awareness and lowering waste. The best news: the starting measure of 4.63 ounces of food waste per student per meal is about 25 percent less than last year’s baseline figure.

November 4, 2011 | Posted in Energy, Friday Buffet, International | Comments closed

Presto: Pesto!

When life gets cold…make pesto.

With the night air approaching freezing in North Carolina, my backyard basil recently began browning. I picked all remaining leaves with some two-year-old help.

Of course–much to my chagrin–I was a little too late for some of the basil…

After harvesting our year’s pine nut crop procuring plenty of pine nuts, the entire process was utterly simple. A little measuring and Cuisinart pulsing later, I had a nice supply of pesto, whose insistence on browning immediately did not endear it to this photographer. But as I say–’taste trumps appearance.’

While this process is second nature for many of you, it was my first experience turning my end-of-garden basil into a usable product. And it underscores the beauty of those old foodways like end-of-garden cooking and canning. While eating food picked that day is fabulous, why let the changing season halt garden-grown eating.

November 2, 2011 | Posted in Garden, Household, Personal | Comments closed

NPR Wasted Food Weekend

This weekend was a wasted food feast over on NPR. First, The Splendid Table quiz asked: What is a Saudi restaurateur doing to reduce food waste? Head to the 32:00 mark for the question and answer.

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And over on A Praire Home Companion, Stephanie Davis sang the only gleaning song I’ve ever heard. “Give a Little Back” discusses the more traditional form of gleaning–leaving some of your crop in the field for those who need it. Music to my ears…

October 31, 2011 | Posted in Farm, Food Recovery, Restaurant | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

There’s a new app to help New Yorkers find and patronize restaurants that donate unused food to City Harvest. Perfect!

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Food deserts present a real problem these days. This piece addresses the different solutions, from Walmart to urban agriculture to food recovery.

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You want tips on how to avoid waste and (save money)? I’ve got plenty.

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The stats are a bit old, but this video nicely summarizes the food waste problem:

October 28, 2011 | Posted in Food Recovery, Friday Buffet, Personal, Technology | Comments closed

Go Halfsies!

“Clean your plate, there are children starving [somewhere].”

That saying is problematic, partly because it guilts us into overeating. But a burgeoning non-profit called Halfsies has a better idea. At participating restaurants, customers can select a Halfsies version of a dish, giving them less food and ensuring that the value of the unserved half goes to hungry.

It will take a little bit to get ramped up, but Halfsies has the potential to reduce food waste, feed the hungry and keep us from overeating (protecting us from both massive portions and ourselves, when we keep eating even though we’re full.) You can hit three birds with one word.

As you can see in the PDF explaining the idea, I’m a big fan. But I can definitely see Halfsies succeeding. It’s catchy enough to imagine “I’ll go halfsies on that” entering the lexicon. And it’s high time someone tackled restaurant portion size.

Now all we need is one savvy and/or benevolent restaurant chain to be the first to sign up. Any takers??

October 26, 2011 | Posted in General | Comments closed

Go Gleaning (Please)

Six years ago, I went gleaning for the first time, gathering sweet potatoes in rural North Carolina.

A year ago, I went through a brief training so as to coordinate future gleaning outings.

Yesterday, I got to supervise one such outing–gleaning sweet potatoes, of course (it is North Carolina). The volunteers were mostly a troupe of girl scouts, who got a valuable lesson in where their food comes from and how much of it is regularly wasted.

The arithmetic looked like this: 20 people + 2 hours = 600 lbs. of sweet potatoes recovered (as pictured). While we worked for a little more than two hours, we could have gleaned that field for two weeks and still found more sweet potatoes.

I highly recommend volunteering with a gleaning operation (SOSA is a large one). In my mind, there’s no better way to honor the spirit of Food Day than by rescuing food that would otherwise be plowed under and get it to those in need.

October 24, 2011 | Posted in Food Recovery, Personal | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

USA! USA! Oh, wait–first place is bad here.

Not surprisingly, the United States owns ‘most wasteful nation’ status with food.  (Although I am confused by the data source…)

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In case you were curious, here’s what curbside composting looks like in Portland, with their tasteful brown kitchen caddies…

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Sticking in Oregon, here’s a heartening fruit tree gleaning tale, complete with some awesome images.

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It’s always great to hear about casinos composting what is sure to be a massive amount of wasted food. Delaware’s Dover Downs is the latest.

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On the down side, cost is a real barrier to composting in Illinois, despite a 2009 bill aimed at making the practice easier.

October 21, 2011 | Posted in Casino, Composting, Friday Buffet, International | Comments closed
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